WHAT IS IT?
People with far-sighted vision can see distant objects very well, but have difficulty focusing on objects that are close by.
HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
When you look at an object in front of you, light travels in parallel waves from the object to your eyes. The circular transparent window at the front of your eyes, the cornea, and the clear lens behind the cornea, bend these rays of light.
If the cornea is correctly curved and the lens is clear and can be manipulated into the right shape, the light is angled to strike the most sensitive layer at the back of the eye, the retina.
The cells in retina turn the light signals into electrochemical messages which are sent to your brain. The brain then creates a picture from the information, and you “see” the object in front of you.
If the cornea and lens do not have enough strength to bend the light correctly or the length of the eyeball is too short, the concentrated light will fall beyond the back of the eye. So, the sharpest point is too far or long. The brain will not be able to create a sharp image of the object that you are looking at.
This is known as far-sightedness or hyperopia / hypermetropia and falls under the group known as refractive errors.
HOW DO YOU NOTICE IT IN YOUR CHILD?
Most of the time children do not complain of any symptoms and it goes unnoticed until a child has a formal screening or eye test. Therefore, it is important to have your child’s eyes tested by a professional.
Sometimes your child may complain of “tired eyes”, headaches and fatigue easily when doing ‘close’ work. They may rub their eyes frequently and if the condition is severe, you may notice your child squinting when performing nearby activities or when they are tired or ill.
You may also notice behavioural changes like not enjoying school or even refusing to attend class.
Did you know ?
The medical term for far-sightedness is hypermetropia or hyperopia
WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF NOT IDENTIFYING IT EARLY ENOUGH?
Far Sightedness can be associated with otherconditions of the eye, so it is important to have you child’s eyes tested.
If one eye is more severely affected than the other, the images sent from the two eyes to the brain will be different. This causes confusion, so to solve the problem the brain “switches off” the image from one eye so that it only receives the information from the less affected eye, creating a clear picture.
If this is not corrected by the age of 7, this can result in permanently reduced vision. This results in the child not being able to see in 3D and may affect future career choices.
As hyperopic eyes are shorter and more compact than normal, the drainage system in the eye can become squashed, limiting the amount of fluid leaving the eye. This can result in the fluid building up in the eye, creating a high pressure.
Retinoschisis, a condition where the cell layers in the retina split and is a rare complication.
Did you know ?
Most cases of hyperopia in children can be treated with spectacles or contact lenses
WHAT TO DO IF YOU NOTICE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS IN YOUR CHILD
All children should have frequent eye exams. This ensures that any subtle problems can be diagnosed and treated early.
If you or a family member has hyperopia, you should consider taking your child to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam.
To diagnose hyperopia, an eye doctor will perform a visual acuity test as well as a refraction test to determine the amount of correction needed in eyeglasses or contact lenses. They will also examine the back of the eye thoroughly to ensure that any additional issues are diagnosed.
HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?
Hyperopia is usually treated with convex lenses in glasses or contact lenses. Convex lenses bend the light inwards towards the retina. You may notice that your child’s glasses prescription has a “plus” sign in front of the numbers. This denotes that the lens is convex. The higher the number following the plus sign the stronger the lens needs to be.
In the unlikely event that the trail of wearing the glasses does not work, eye drops can be instilled into the stronger eye to help the weaker eye adapt.
In some cases, such as squints, corrective surgery may be an option.
Refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK, is usually not performed until the patient’s eyes have finished growing, which happens around the age of 21.
LONG TERM PROGNOSIS?
Hypermetropia decreases with age, so many children can be weaned from their glasses by teenage years.
Hyperopia is usually an easily managed condition as long as it is diagnosed and treated timeously!
- Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology, 2nd edition by A.K.O. Denniston and P.I. Murray. Pages 740-741
- Ophthalmology Review Manual by K.C. Chern and M.E. Zegans. Pages 504-505
- Nelson Textbook of Peadiatrics, 19th edition by Kleigman: Chapter 612 – Abnormalities of Refraction and Accommodation
- PubMed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov2013 Oct;120(10):2109-16.
- doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.06.039. Epub 2013 Aug 13.
- All about vision.com